The Alameda County District Attorney's Office on Thursday issued a six-count criminal complaint against the two suspects arrested in the fatal shooting of a Home Depot employee in Pleasanton this week, including charging the lead defendant with first-degree murder.
Court documents also provide new details about the circumstances of the deadly encounter and ensuing police pursuit on Tuesday, including a police recount of security footage from the scene where loss prevention worker Blake Mohs intervened in a theft in progress before being shot, a reported claim from Benicia Knapps that her gun fired accidentally and the possibility that the alleged getaway driver didn't fully know what happened at the store.
Knapps, 32, of Oakland faces felony counts of first-degree murder for Mohs' death, possession of a firearm by a felon and child abuse for allegedly holding her 21-month-old daughter in the fleeing SUV.
Co-defendant David Guillory, 31, was charged with four felonies: child abuse, accessory after the fact (knowledge of crime) to robbery, evading police with willful disregard for safety and evading police while driving against traffic.
Prosecutors also allege both defendants have prior serious convictions on their record. It is unclear whether Knapps or Guillory are yet represented by attorneys in the new case or when their arraignment has been scheduled for.
The killing of Mohs, a 26-year-old Tri-Valley native and recognizable Home Depot associate who was set to be married this summer, during a shoplifting incident that escalated into gunfire in the middle of the afternoon has sent shockwaves through the Pleasanton community.
"I'm able to hug my family, but I'm saddened by the news of Mr. Blake Mohs – the loss his family, and what was supposed to be his future extended family must be feeling … My condolences, which are simply insufficient as I question why," Pleasanton Vice Mayor Jack Balch said on social media Wednesday.
Mayor Karla Brown and a Home Depot spokeswoman issued separate statements publicly earlier in the week, each lamenting the "senseless" shooting and offering condolences to Mohs' family.
A probable cause declaration written by Pleasanton Police Department Officer Mark Sheldon sheds light on what authorities say transpired on Tuesday afternoon.
Sheldon alleged video surveillance footage from the store shows a Black woman – later identified by police as Knapps – in a black facemask and white tracksuit enter Home Depot on Johnson Drive through the front lumber door a little before 2:15 p.m., walk around, grab a large yellow Dewalt box and leave through a rear door without paying.
The shoplifter is confronted outside by Mohs and another employee, a struggle ensues between her and Mohs, and he grabs hold of the stolen item, according to Sheldon. Knapps then allegedly grabs a gun from her purse while the two employees run with the merchandise back toward the store.
"Once the loss prevention officer gets into the store he turns towards Knapp and there is another struggle over the stolen item. Knapp(s) is then seen shooting the loss prevention officer from point blank range," Sheldon wrote, adding that Mohs was hit in the left side of his chest. "The loss prevention officer lets go of the stolen item and Knapp(s) is seen getting into the suspect vehicle with the stolen item."
Mohs was transported from the scene to an area hospital, where he died from his injuries later Tuesday, police said.
Back outside the store, the shooter hopped into a getaway vehicle described by an eyewitness as a red Nissan Pathfinder, according to Sheldon. A Pleasanton police officer located the SUV on city streets but reportedly was never close enough to initiate a pursuit before the Pathfinder got onto Interstate 580 westbound.
Soon after a "be on the lookout" was issued to area law enforcement agencies, Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies spotted the vehicle getting off the freeway at the Strobridge Avenue exit in Castro Valley, according to a probable cause declaration by Deputy Chase Swalwell.
Deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop but the driver – later identified by authorities as Guillory – allegedly failed to yield, drove the wrong direction down a one-way street and got back onto the freeway.
During the ensuing pursuit, the Pathfinder weaved in and out of traffic at more than 90 mph and drove onto the shoulder to pass, according to Swalwell, who added that "the front passenger door of the vehicle appeared to be swaying open and appeared severely damaged."
The ACSO fixed-wing aircraft was also involved in the chase, according to authorities.
The SUV ultimately exited at Golf Links Road in Oakland, ran a red light, sped down the street and drove in the opposite direction of traffic at times to pass other vehicles, Swalwell said.
Authorities allege Guillory kept going until stopping near Knapps' home on Ney Avenue in Oakland at around 2:45 p.m. He got out of the vehicle and ran toward the apartment complex, attempting to evade deputies before surrendering 12 minutes later, according to Swalwell.
The lone adult passenger, Knapps "exited the vehicle while holding a 21-month-old juvenile in her arms, which she appeared to have been holding during the entire pursuit," Swalwell wrote.
Sheldon said he later interviewed Knapps after the arrest. "She positively identified herself from the Home Depot surveillance as the suspect stealing the items and being confronted by loss prevention. She also admitted to being in possession of a gun and it firing accidentally," the officer stated.
Authorities say they later learned both arrestees had criminal records: for Knapps, a 2014 conviction for grand theft in San Joaquin County, and for Guillory, first-degree burglary in 2013 in Santa Clara County and unlawful sexual intercourse in Solano County in 2015.